Agile Testing Days 2013 – Day 2 – Certification and documentation ;-)

After such a good night at the MIATPP award event, it was rather difficult getting up on the morning of day 2, and all aspirations to attend Lean Coffee again evaporated in favour of an extra half hour in bed!

First keynote of the day was Christian Hassa Live it – or leave it: returning your investment into Agile. The gist of this presentation was that you can adopt all the agile processes in the world, but ultimately if you don’t use them right, and if you don’t continuously improve both the software and the team, then you’re on for a hiding to nothing.

Another key point that Christian raised was that most of the time a fixed time and/or fixed budget restriction may seem like the problem, but more often than not the real problem is waiting too long before validating your idea/feature/implementation.

Write, Release, Review, Refine

Have conversations with the customers as regular as you can. Get them involved in the development process to validate what you’re doing. Christian cited an example where a customer who reluctantly met him every 4 weeks gradually saw the benefit of this feedback loop, and ended up coming in every day! This way you don’t end up building software solutions that are no good for the customer.

There seems to be a theme of this conference around the getting customer feedback early, and getting testing involved in the process early. This is really good to hear and validates thoughts I’ve had for a while.

Following the keynote was Gitte Ottosen with Making test soup on a nail: Getting from nothing to something. First shock of the session was Gitte admitting that she is certified ISEB, TMap, CAT etc etc… the horror of it! Of course I jest and Gitte made a joke of it but justified it by saying that she grows from learning everywhere. I must admit, I agree. It’s very easy to slag off certifications, and doing certifications for certifications sake is not good. Using them as a qualified measure of how good you are is not good, but you can still learn from them.

Anyway, I digress… Gitte’s session was pretty much an experience report to demonstrate her approach to exploratory testing in context with a new team she joined. I really enjoyed this session, and it again cemented the process of speaking to the stakeholders early!

Gitte’s mission was to create the test strategy for this particular product, test and document. She started by getting the primary stakeholder (product owner) to give her a verbal overview of the product, and an explanation of the new feature under development. From this initial conversation, Gitte started to build a mind map showing the features of the product.

I really liked the mind map idea, particularly as Gitte showed how she evolved the mind map following exploratory testing of the product both existing functionality then the new features. In this mindmap, at the detailed feature level, there were the test techniques relevant to this, and then further classifying parts of th tree based on priority. Issues found during the exploratory testing were also marked on this tree.

Documentation is something that is often discarded in the ‘Agile way’, but documentation does not have to mean reams of requirements specs, test specs, test cases, analysis documents etc etc. Mindmapping is something I’ve heard alot about in the last couple of years, but never really found a compelling reason to use it. Now I have!

Why you need another learning style for Agile Testing by Jurian van de Laar basically had the message that you should learn in a practical way, not top-down, lesson type way. Nothing really new there. Most people learn far quicker by doing. Use various training styles dependent on who is learning and how they want to learn. Seems pretty obvious common sense to me, but still good to hear.

Dan North’s keynote Accelerated Agile Testing was basically Mondays tutorial further compressed into a 1 hour session. Nevertheless it was entertaining, and still very useful as a refresher to Mondays content. Oh and apparently there is ~130 types of testing… got alot of learning to do cause I can think of about 30!

The final keynote of the day was Matt Heusser. entitled Who says agile can’t be faster. Interestingly, Matt gave the audience the choice of that one or another one that he’s come up with in the last few days Cool new ideas… and some old ones too… Predictably, everyone chose the latter.

Apparently, and I didn’t know this, we have both system 1 and system 2 thinking. The former is our instinctive, automatic, rapid reaction part of the brain, whereas the latter is the considered, effortful and focussed part. Good testing happens in the system 2 area, but we often find ourselves in system 1 due to focussing on the wrong metrics, counting stuff etc.

Today was a good day, somewhat hard to keep going after last night, but still plenty of stuff learnt!

My Takeaway Triple from Day 2

  • Don’t automate things until they get boring
  • Use mindmaps for documenting product,features, test approaches, priorities and issues!
  • Don’t retest everything if a change is made… test smarter!

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